1. Are there 90,000 illegal immigrants in Italy?
“Combining data from the last 4 and a half years, the number of illegal immigrants in Italy does not exceed 90,000; the number clandestine immigrant in our country is much lower than we might have presumed.”
Surprising numbers on illegal immigrants were presented by interior minister Salvini at the end of a meeting on security, terrorism, Islamic extremism and immigration, which was held at the ministry.
The first to react were his allies from the Five Star Movement: “We are surprised by Minister Salvini’s words, since he was the one who wrote about 500,000 illegal immigrants in the government contract. That is the real number, confirmed by many organisations. We do not understand why he would go back on what is written in the contract. Is it because nothing has been done yet on the issue of repatriation?”
How many actual illegal immigrants are there? According to Simone Fontana, in his fact checking for Wired, a reliable estimate of their number should be based on the annual report on migration by Fondazione ISMU, which put the number of illegal immigrants at 533,000 as of December 2018, signalling a growing trend.
Il Sole 24 Ore quoted a research by ISPI highlighting the effects of the Salvini decree, which by restricting protections for asylum seekers will only lead to a further increase in the number of illegal immigrants, (Claudia Torrisi had written about it for Open Migration).
As Lorenzo Braga wrote in Il Foglio, the League minister’s turnaround may be due to the difficulty of delivering on the promises made before the elections, marking a shift in his strategy.
2. Foggia: another young migrant dead in a fire
He died in a fire that broke out in the ghetto of Borgo Mezzanone at the border between Foggia and Manfredonia in Southern Italy. Samara Saho, a 26-year-old from Gambia had been living in one of the shelters since his asylum claim had been denied and he had become an irregular immigrant.
Near the reception centre for asylum seekers, hundreds of people are still living in precarious conditions, and often exploited as farm workers in the area. Ilaria Romano wrote about them for us.
3. Court of Cassation overrules crackdown on asylum claims
Would repatriation endanger the life of an asylum seeker? According to the Italian Court of Cassation, this is what the judges should ask themselves when adjudicating asylum claims. The judges of the high court have ruled in favour of a Pakistani national who had been denied the right to remain in Italy under international protection, based on generic information on the internal situation in Pakistan, first by the prefectorial commission in Lecce and then by a court of the same city in 2017.
As Avvenire reported, the plaintiff, via his attorney Nicola Lonoce, “noted that the decision had been made ‘on the basis of generic information on the situation in Pakistan, without considering all the available evidence’, and without the judge conducting a full investigation. According to the Court of Cassation, the judge has “a duty to cooperate by ascertaining the actual situation in the country of origin through investigation and acquisition of evidence, so that each individual asylum claim can be adjudicated on the basis of updated information” and not “generic formulas” such as the mention of “international sources”.
4. Spain cuts personnel, rescue operations in the Mediterranean at risk
Government cuts to the personnel of Salvamento Marítimo are jeopardising rescue operations off Gibraltar, the union CGT warned. The decision is an especially hazardous one since the summer season coincides with a peak in boat crossings.
As El Pais reported, there has been a drop in the number of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Spain.
5. Fire on migrants in Libyan civil war
Gunshots, screaming and wounded people: the footage from Qasr Bin Gashir, in Tripoli leaves nothing to the imagination. The clashes in Libya are not sparing anyone, least of all migrants, who are especially at risk.
Among the 700 detained in the centre – including women and children – there may be at least two dead and 20 injured, with multiple accounts of migrants forced to fight.
The violence led Pope Francis to call again for the creation of humanitarian corridors for migrants in danger.
Human rights groups operating in the area, such as Doctors Without Borders, called for urgent and immediate evacuation: “Many of these people have endured this before, some multiple times after being intercepted at sea and brought back to Libya. This senseless violence could have been prevented if calls for their evacuation out of Libya made some two weeks ago had been heeded.”‘, said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, MSF humanitarian affairs advisor for Libya and Mediterranean search and rescue operations.
Immigration solicitor Giulia Tranchina described to the Guardian the situation inside the detention centre: “I have been in touch with seven refugees in Qasr Bin Gashir since last September. Many are sick and starving. All of them tried to escape across the Mediterranean to Italy, but were pushed back to the detention centre by the Libyan coastguard. Some were previously imprisoned by traffickers in Libya for one to two years. Many have been recognised by UNHCR as genuine refugees.”
Director Paula Palacios is the author of the documentary “Libye: retour en enfer – Quand l’Europe ferme ses portes” which aired on Arte: a clear and necessary illustration of the consequences of closed border policies.
6. Trieste excludes African athletes from half marathon, backtracks
“After launching a provocation that struck a chord, calling attention on an important ethical issue, contrary to what we announced yesterday we will also invite African athletes”. The announcement came from Fabio Carini, race organiser of Trieste Running Festival, said the controversy is still hot.
Last week Carini himself had said to the press that he was going to exclude professional African athletes from the race because they were being exploited and underpaid:
“Athletes from Kenya and North Africa are pawns in the hands of unscrupulous managers who exploit them. These athletes are underpaid and treated beneath their worth. This also affects European athletes who cannot be hired because of the market prices.”
Carini’s words brought mixed reactions from politicians – “madness” according to deputy PM Di Maio, a legitimate choice for Friuli governor Fedriga – and civil society: why exclude the exploited and not the exploiters?
“Even if the ostensible end (fighting the alleged exploitation of African athletes at the hands of agencies), the means (excluding African athletes from races altogether) would be incongruous and disproportionate. It is obvious that instances of exploitation must be fought by supporting the exploited athletes, not by excluding them. These races are an expression of a right to freedom that is enshrined in sports activities, as well as an opportunity to emerge and overcome the exploitation that the organisers say they want to combat.”
#TriesteRunningFestival Lo sfruttamento degli atleti non si combatte con l’esclusione dallo sport ma intervenendo a sostegno degli atleti sfruttati e non precludendo loro la partecipazione alle gare. https://t.co/TOgQtEF3l2
— ASGI (@asgi_it) April 27, 2019
As the sports federation prepares to launch an internal investigation in Trieste, MEP and Italy’s former integration minister Cécile Kyenge said to ANSA: “I will write to European Commissioner for Justice, Vera Jourova, to shed light on the matter; what happened is disturbing”.
7. Thirty Venezuelan refugees feared drowned en route to Trinidad
More than 30 Venezuelans are missing, feared drowned, after their boat sank attempting to reach Trinidad. The vessel had left the port city of Guiria but capsized near the uninhabited Patos Island, 3 miles (5km) from the Venezuelan coast. According to a report in the Guardian, the small, independent island nation was the final destination of the crossing. The accident happened at night on a popular route for refugees and migrants who pay traffickers to reach Trinidad.
8. Are resettlements replacing asylum in Germany?
Only 300 vulnerable people came to Germany as a result of resettlement programs between 2012 and 2014. The country then raised its admission quotas to 10,200 between 2018 and 2019.
Steve Alter, a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry, said the aim is “to destroy the business model of smugglers and reduce illegal immigration, while at the same time providing people in need of special protection a legal path to Germany. This has no effect whatsoever on territorial asylum”.
“Resettlement and other legal forms of admission should in no way replace or threaten the individual right to asylum,” says Vanessa Zehnder, a resettlement adviser at Caritas. “They should be supplementary and not in opposition to our demands for higher numbers of refugee admissions.”
9. Migrant youths left homeless, Intersos warns
The end of humanitarian protection was meant to spell the end of an emergency, but it ended up creating a new one: thousands of former minors in Italy are at risk of being homeless and without a residency permit.
The warning came from the Intersos report L’Isola dei minori: under the Decree Law n.113/18 – commonly known as the Salvini decree – upon turning 18, young migrants entitled to humanitarian protection will have to leave the facilities for minors with no access to adult reception centres.
“Even if they are part of an integration process, attending school or vocational training, these youths become illegal residents, condemned to social exclusion, at risk of work exploitation and involvement in illegal activities”, said Intersos Migration Advocacy officer Elena Rozzi. This is especially true of Sicily, where 42% of unaccompanied foreign minors were hosted as of late 2018.
10. Starving in Hungary’s transit zones
Hungary is denying food to asylum seekers detained in transit zones on the border with Serbia. According to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, since February there had been 8 cases of starvation of migrants detained; before that, the Committee had taken 5 such cases to the ECHR, after which the government had promised to end food deprivation.
Since March 2017under Hungarian law, anyone applying for asylum in Hungary can only do so from a transit zone. Ilaria Sommaruga and Annapaola Ammirati wrote for Open Migration about the migrants detained throughout their asylum procedure.
Foto di copertina: il centro Baobab nel giorno dello sgombero. Foto di Andrea Oleandri